Matisse Thybulle's YouTube Docuseries Gives Inside Look at NBA Bubble

Jordan Cohn
July 17, 2020 - 11:41 am

76ers rookie Matisse Thybulle knew he had a good idea in the works at the start of the NBA bubble, documenting what life would be like from a player's (and rookie's) perspective. But he had his fears.

"I didn't know if they (the viewing public) were going to like me," he told Scott Cacciola of the New York Times.

But Sixers fans, like myself, probably view that fear as one he never should have felt. It took Thybulle very little time to immediately become beloved by the Philadelphia fan base -- which, I remind you, is not always the easiest fan base to ingratiate yourself with. There's literally a thread on USA Today's Rookie Wire devoted to Philly fans' laudatory tweets about Thybulle after only a few months of his career. One of the tweets reads "I would die for Matisse Thybulle."

And the results of Thybulle's videos confirm the theory that his fear of posting the videos was one he needn't worry about. Not only do people like the videos; they love the videos.

If you have seen Matisse Thybulle’s outstanding “Welcome to the Bubble” docuseries on YouTube, then you don’t need to keep reading. And it wouldn’t be particularly shocking if you already have -- the first two episodes have combined for over a million views, and the third episode, released Thursday, is already over 300,000. Thybulle also mentioned that several media outlets -- including the LA Times and the aforementioned New York Times -- and YouTubers have shown support for his series. 

So, if you haven't yet seen it, you're probably going to hear a lot more about it. And let me be the one to tell you... Thybulle's series is awesome. You simply have to give the videos a watch. It's made all the more impressive by the fact that Thybulle films, produces, edits and posts everything himself.

His teammates love what he's doing. Tobias Harris and Kyle O'Quinn have emerged as two of the most frequent figures in the series, thanks to their colorful personalities, but nearly every Sixer has had his moment so far. Ben Simmons complimented his rookie teammate for his work, mentioning how creative and talented he is.

"I love it," Simmons said (via Sports Illustrated). "I love that he's capturing this moment. It's a historic moment for sports in general, so I think what he's been doing has been great.

Here are some of my favorite highlights from each episode:

Episode 1:

  • Thybulle buys Chick-Fil-A for the whole team before their flight to Orlando, as rookies do, snarkily saying, "even in a state of pandemic, that job still stands."
  • Tobias Harris, on the plane, looks forward to his stay in a "luxury jail" for the next few months.
  • Joel Embiid gives the COVID testing orientation leader a hard time, jokingly insisting on shaking his hand.
  • Thybulle sorts his goodie bag of food into a "yes" and "no" pile -- Velveeta mac and cheese was a surprising entrant into the latter pile.

Episode 2:

  • Testers come to Thybulle's room for both a throat and nasal swab test, of which we get a firsthand view.
  • Thybulle, a size 13, shows that he received size 15 shoes. He makes it work, though.
  • Ben Simmons talks about fishing in his best Southern/Midwestern American accent.
  • General manager Elton Brand shows he's still got game at the end of a practice.

Episode 3:

  • A Facetime call with Thybulle's father in which the rookie repeatedly tells his dad to be normal... he doesn't quite listen.
  • Thybulle doesn't seem to be a morning person, looking into the camera and saying, "to whoever made the decision that the Sixers have practice at 9:00 a.m.: you suck."
  • Shake Milton and Marial Shayok draining threes on command.
  • A view of the sick players' lounge, including arcade games, TVs, card tables, and a ping pong match with Furkan Korkmaz.
  • A failed fishing trip with O'Quinn and Harris, during which O'Quinn tries to pilot the boat but breaks it very early on.

We can't wait to follow along for the rest of the series.